Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Psychological Research Behind Keeping New Habits

How are those New Year resolutions going? It’s February and studies show that by this time, many of us start to fall back into old habits. Starting oral health-related habits can be difficult, but good hygiene is vital to your oral and overall health. Dr. Dipika Shah, DDS of Holmdel, NJ wants to let her patients in on the secrets that help them start and keep healthy habits.

According to recent research, about fifty percent of the population make New Year resolutions. However, most people end up right where they started or further behind by the next New Year. This is mainly because people set unrealistic goals and expect unrealistic outcomes. Then, when they become discouraged, they slip back into their old ways.

Psychology researchers instead suggest making more specific goals with realistic expectations and smaller steps. For instance, if you want to make it a goal to have better oral health, create a more specific goal you can focus on like starting to floss every day. This is a small goal you can focus on daily that will, in turn, lead to cleaner teeth and healthier gums.

In addition, brain scientists Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered that habitual behavioral changes are made through creating new neural pathways and memories. These can be established with new thinking patterns. These new neural pathways will become your default thinking when you come face to face with a decision.

That being said, the next time you want to skip part of your oral hygiene routine, think of the short-term and long-term positive effects of doing it. Day by day, change your thought process!

Remember to brush twice per day and floss once per day. To schedule a cleaning and examination with Dr. Dipika Shah, DDS, call our Holmdel, NJ office at (732) 264-8180 or visit our website,

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